Helping Cy shot, deGrom drops ERA to 1.77; Mets top Nats 4-2

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By HOWARD FENDRICH

AP Sports Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) – No pitcher ever has put together a season quite like Jacob deGrom’s 2018 for the New York Mets.

The 23 consecutive quality starts are a record. So are the 28 starting assignments in a row allowing three runs or fewer. The 1.77 ERA isn’t too shabby, either.

And he might just wind up with the fewest wins for a starting pitcher who earns a Cy Young Award, too. Boosting his bid for the NL honor, deGrom broke a quality-starts mark first established by Bob Gibson a half-century ago, allowing one run and three singles in seven innings to help the Mets beat the Washington Nationals 4-2 Friday night.

“He’s just getting better and better. He’s a special ballplayer. He goes out there every night and it’s tough that he only has nine wins or eight wins or whatever he has,” said Nationals slugger Bryce Harper, who went 0 for 3 against deGrom, including a pair of strikeouts and a chopper back to the pitcher. “He’s one of the best in baseball – from both leagues. You know what you’re going to get out of him every single night and tonight he was pretty tough.”

About an hour after their loss ended, Harper and the Nationals officially were eliminated from contention in the NL East, dropping nine games behind the Atlanta Braves with eight remaining. Atlanta beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-5. Washington won the division each of the past two seasons under then-manager Dusty Baker; the club is 77-77 under rookie skipper Dave Martinez.

Throwing fastballs in the 97-99 mph range, deGrom (9-9) struck out eight and walked one. Gibson in 1968 and Chris Carpenter in 2005 each had single-season runs of 22 quality starts. No one had done better. Until now.

“I want us to be in every ballgame that I pitch, so I guess that kind of is an accomplishment of a goal that I have,” deGrom said. “So I want to continue to do that moving forward.”

His next start will be Wednesday against visiting Atlanta. That’s for sure. Neither deGrom nor manager Mickey Callaway would rule out the possibility of an extra outing on short rest on the regular season’s final day, Sept. 30, at home against Miami.

The right-handed deGrom has given up as many as four earned runs in only one of his 31 starts in 2018, back on April 10 against the Marlins.

So Friday’s game was pretty much wrapped up by the third inning, which ended with the Mets ahead 4-1 against Joe Ross (0-1).

DeGrom is locked in what’s considered a tight race for Cy Young honors – and perhaps league MVP consideration, too – with Nationals ace Max Scherzer, who is 17-7 with a 2.57 ERA and 290 strikeouts. Scherzer has won the past two Cy Young Awards in the NL, plus one in the AL when he played for the Detroit Tigers.

In the Mets’ 5-4 victory in 12 innings Thursday, Scherzer gave up three runs in seven innings and struck out 13.

Entering Friday, deGrom boasted a majors-leading 1.78 ERA, 251 Ks and 45 walks, and ranked No. 1 in various other categories.

DeGrom looked good from the outset, striking out leadoff hitter Victor Robles with a 98 mph fastball, then getting Harper to swing through a 99 mph offering to end the first inning. Harper missed a 93 mph slider to strike out again in the fourth.

“He’s just able to do things other guys aren’t,” Mets teammate Jay Bruce said about deGrom. “He goes out there and it’s been pretty automatic. He’s either going to give up zero or one, pretty much every time he goes out there.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: Mesoraco hadn’t played since leaving a game Sept. 3 because of a bulging disk in his back. He was 3 for 3 with a walk.

Nationals: OF Adam Eaton was out of the starting lineup for the fourth time in five games, because of a sore and stiff left knee.

UP NEXT

RHP Corey Oswalt (3-2, 6.31 ERA) will start for the Mets on Saturday against RHP Austin Voth (0-1, 11.81), who will take RHP Tanner Roark’s spot in the rotation. Roark’s wife recently gave birth.

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